Parenting & Family

PACE Academy in Richmond Hill

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  • May 14th, 2018 11:07 am
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Newbie
Mar 26, 2008
10 posts
4 upvotes
Both my daughters attended The Academy for Gifted Children from Grades 1 to 12. I was initially referred to this school by the headmaster at the Montessori school my eldest daughter attended (starting at age 3) who felt my daughter needed the stimulation and more challenging environment this school offered. She referred me to a parent that had both children enrolled that lived in Barrie. I discovered there were many students coming from great distances to attend this school. This parent's advice (a pharmacist/business woman) was to forget the 'cosmetics' of the school - as what was happening inside the school was what counted. I had looked at many options, but based on her strong recommendation, decided to pursue it. As it turned out - it was the best advice I ever received. Both my children thrived in this school - as have so many of the students that attended PACE (which is how it is referred to by the students). Their thirst for learning was satisfied on a daily basis - and they never ever wanted to miss a day of school. What I most loved about this school was that from the moment they started at the school in Grade 1, they were learning how to time manage, plan, organize how to achieve deadlines - a skill that is so lacking in so many students. Yes - they had a fair amount of homework, but they were also working two to three grade levels above their physical age when more homework would be required. They also were taught how to think - how to analyze, look at options, use common sense; critical thinking skills that last a lifetime. It is the one attribute of their teaching that a parent that had moved their child to the University of Toronto School really missed and felt was unique. (This family did not move because they were unhappy with PACE).

From the very start you will see the difference in the way they are taught spelling, grammar, reading comprehension etc. During the years, I had friends that were teachers in the public school system looking at my children’s schoolwork and they were impressed how advanced it was from what they were covering in the classroom - and - that my daughters were able to handle the work. It's amazing what kids can do when presented with a challenge. As for the teachers, I was always impressed that they were able to attract the caliber they did - including a number of PHd's. While the school is definitely academic in nature, there are opportunities for sports, music and theatre as part of the curriculum. They have an excellent music instructor, and in the past, an excellent theatre instructor as well. Every year they have a show and students show off their talents - and I was always so impressed with how extremely talented so many of the students were. The school participates in a lot of national and regional competitions academically and in the extra-curricular areas such as robotics. One of the best features of the school is their extra-curricular program for the students from grades 1 - 6. They can explore numerous options that are either included with the tuition or available at an extra fee - such as karate, etc. As well, they really push the children to get involved in volunteering and community programs - which exposes them to a totally different aspect of being a well rounded, globally aware student.

When it came time for high school I asked both my daughters if they wanted to attend other schools and made a point of taking them to look at their options including schools with the IB/AP programs. Neither of them wanted to leave PACE. They wanted to stay with like minded students and believed the education they were getting was on a different level to what was available. While every school has its own unique challenges, my daughters received an outstanding education at PACE - and both of them have thanked me on a number of occasions for enrolling them at this school - and for the education they received there. It is a small school - so students receive more personal attention and over the years, I have witnessed extremely shy children develop into outgoing well rounded young adults. The school has an amazing track record with it's students moving on and excelling at university, particularly given the small graduating classes. A number of them have ended up at Harvard, and Wharton, and many have won highly desired scholarships, offered spots in med schools, law school, and other highly competitive programs. One particular year 5 of the 20 students of the graduating class were offered a spot in the Health Sciences program at McMaster - a program where over 5000 apply for 140 spots - incredible results!! One of the reasons you will find it hard to get information on this school is that I found the director is quite humble about the achievements of their students. However, she works behind the scenes to make sure that students are considered for any opportunity available. While this school might not be for everyone - it was everything to my daughters - and as I see them excelling at university and in their lives I know that Academy for Gifted Children PACE played a huge part in the young adults they have become. I will be forever thankful to the teachers and the administration at this school - and to that Montessori teacher that recommended The Academy for Gifted Children PACE. I hope this information helps any parent trying to decide on the very important choice they will make for their child's education. I have personally referred three students that joined the school and remained there until graduation.
Newbie
Oct 5, 2013
8 posts
1 upvote
Richmond Hill
Hi Deal Diva,

Can you please let me know which university are both of your daughters attending now and what faculty?
Newbie
Mar 26, 2008
10 posts
4 upvotes
To pace0411. While I appreciate your interest in my daughter's progress since they left PACE, I am not comfortable sharing information that would allow them to be identified. I will tell you that they are at excellent universities, have been on the honour roll every year, won numerous scholarships and awards, have been involved in their faculty and student government and have done a fair amount of volunteer work as well. They also held down part time jobs during the school year - and full time summer jobs during the summer. They both ended up in very different faculties - as they are quite different from each other in their interests. All of my daughter's friends have gone on to universities - such as U of T, Queen's, Western, McMaster, Ryerson, - or to the US or overseas - and have flourished. PACE students end up in all the faculties including political science, law, medicine, engineering, math, technology, sciences, education and the arts. Almost all of them continue with their education after their undergrad. When my girls were in the elementary program I often would see PACE graduates visiting the school - and would always ask them how they found their first year of university and the transition. Every one of them were doing very well - as they knew how to time manage, how to properly write essays, papers and exams, and were very prepared for university work. PACE equips students with all the skills they need to succeed - but like everything in life - it us up to the individual as to how they use those skills. I do know that my daughters will have a lifetime connection with PACE as the friendships they shared during their 12 years at the school continue on to this day.
Newbie
Oct 5, 2013
8 posts
1 upvote
Richmond Hill
Hi Deal Diva,

Thanks for sharing your opinions about PACE. In regarding the Scholarship, Is high percentage of graduating students would get the Scholarship? Will the Principal proactively to help students apply the scholarship? I still don't understand why a lot of kids eventually leave the school after they graduate from grade 8 at PACE?
Newbie
Mar 26, 2008
10 posts
4 upvotes
Hi pace0411, You are welcome. PACE has an impressive record with regards to scholarship winners. There are certain scholarships where the student must be nominated by the principal of a school (i.e. Queen's Chancellor, Loran, U of T National Book Award etc) and is based on school population (i.e. 1 or 2 nominations by school of their top students). Others are awarded automatic admissions scholarships based on graduating GPA with no need for a separate application other than to the university. Some universities offer significant renewable entrance scholarships for those with 95+ GPA - (Laurier President's Gold Scholarship) and many other university specific scholarships where it is up to the student to apply. It is extremely competitive to win the big Canadian scholarships - i.e TD, as academic performance is only one aspect and includes student's contributions to community causes and leadership initiatives. Advice and assistance is provided to students, but applications are the responsibility of the student. Students and their parents should start early (ideally before choosing Gr 11 courses) with their research on what students need to do to qualify for both external and university scholarships. It takes time and a fair amount of work and there are deadlines that start early in the fall semester of Gr 12. It really helps if the student knows early what specific schools they want to apply to and the course of study as that helps narrow the search for scholarships or bursaries.

With regards to your question on why a student leaves PACE after Gr 7/8 - I can only offer speculation. It may have to do with financial reasons, desire to be exposed to a larger school, the student is finding the PACE program too challenging and/or the student is not performing. One must not assume that just because a child is smart - that they are great students - particularly if everything has always been so easy for them. They have to work hard at PACE. They may move to the public school system for what they perceive will provide a competitive advantage (a risky and short sighted strategy for a gifted student in my opinion). There are some parents that want their children to race through school and graduate years ahead of their peers. However, there have also been students that left and eventually returned to PACE for it's unique program. For those questioning what an IB or AP school offers, they have to remember that PACE is already is teaching at an accelerated level from the start. I know a student, now in medical school, that did AP courses in addition to his studies at PACE. He found that it had not been to his advantage as he ended up taking the university courses he had credits for anyways, as they were required for the program but also helped to boost his first year GPA. (AP credits are not used in calculating university GPA) Using the AP transfer credit can affect eligibility for scholarships or programs - and high marks (AP or not) are what universities use to gauge admissions and scholarships. For those in the public school system, AP courses have their benefit to get them prepared for university - but that is part and parcel of the curriculum at PACE and it's differentiated learning style. The beauty of PACE is that you have already been working at that advanced level for years and the benefit becomes evident when it comes time for applying to university and for scholarships. The students have quite a selection of credits - and marks - from which to choose their top six courses required for university. My daughters each had eleven Grade 12 courses from which to choose their top six marks. Studying at that level is also the reason the PACE students do so well when they get to university and is particularly evident in their first year - when so many students struggle to adjust to university. I was very happy that both of my children really wanted to continue their high school education at PACE and that the opportunity was available to them. One thing I always had when my children were at PACE was peace of mind; I always felt my daughters were safe - and that the school was on top of any concerns a parent might have. My daughters felt safe there too. As I said, both of them have thanked me a number of times for enrolling them at PACE and providing them with the education they received - and ultimately - it is their opinion that really counts.
Newbie
Oct 5, 2013
8 posts
1 upvote
Richmond Hill
Hi Deal Diva,

Thanks for all valuable information. In fact my daughter is currently attending PACE. I am more concerning about the high school curriculum, but you did answer most of my questions and concerns. I will let her stay at PACE until grade 12 if my daughter wish to stay.
Newbie
Mar 26, 2008
10 posts
4 upvotes
Hi pace0411,

I am happy to have helped. I did figure out from your name that you were a PACE parent and it's great that you are thinking ahead. When the time is right, consider setting up a meeting with your daughter and the Director - as I am sure she would welcome the opportunity to advise you. I hope when your daughter reaches that stage she will make the right choice. For my daughters - there was never any real competition for their attention. They felt PACE was where they belonged - and they were both extremely happy they had that opportunity to be educated at this unique school. Good luck.
Newbie
Oct 5, 2013
8 posts
1 upvote
Richmond Hill
Hi Deal Diva,

I have some questions regarding AP courses. When comes to Grade 11 & 12, are all Chemistry,Biology, English courses also included AP contents? Or they are just teaching regular level of these courses?

Thanks,
Newbie
Mar 26, 2008
10 posts
4 upvotes
Hi pace0411,

This would be a question to address to the school, to ensure you have up to date information. PACE offers a more complex and differentiated education so the curriculum, in addition to covering required material, provides greater depth, breadth and challenge to learning in all years - including GR 11 & 12. While PACE does not offer 'Advanced Placement' credits, students graduate with a higher number of Gr 12 courses from which to choose their top six grades for university. If your child is interested in taking AP exams for the credit – from what I understand - the course is not a requirement to take the test, although not sure if that option is available in Canada – or just the US.

I know you are struggling with this question – as was I - and want to provide you my thoughts on this. The AP program was developed in the US - one of the reasons US universities pay more attention to AP courses than Canadian universities during the undergrad admissions process. However, US universities also look at grades from all four years of high school versus Canada, where only Grades 11 and 12 are a factor. As already mentioned, most science/med students found AP credits to have been of no value to them and just caused extra stress during already academically stressful years trying to achieve high grades. If you are looking to reduce course loads in universities- you really need to do your research on AP. This article (http://www.karengirard.com/2012/03/why- ... gh-school/) points out some of the pros and cons of AP along with insightful comments from students. Other articles for you: (http://theconversation.com/pushing-stud ... yone-45350) (https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/careers ... ar-AAmXr6o)

Interesting statistics found on the College Board website. In 2017 in the United States, 4,803,422 AP exams were written in all 38 subjects by 2,665,203 students with a mean score of 2.84. With 42% of the students scoring 1 (F) or 2 (D) out of 5 – and 25% of them receiving a 3 (C ) which qualifies you to receive a credit – but most selective universities will not accept or provide, the results are not impressive. So almost 68% of the test results in the US actually would have dragged down the student’s GPA and the course credit could not be used. In fact, some universities now don’t provide a course credit for a test score of 4 (B) which represented 19. 8% of the test scores.

In Canada in 2017, 30,321 AP exams were written in 36 subjects by 19,357 students with a mean score of 3.47. While 48% scored between 1 and 3 (F to C), 25% scored 4 (B) and 26% scored 5 (A). As you can see by the numbers - AP course credits in Canada are not nearly as significant as one would expect - particularly when you realize that 10,935 - or 36% of those exams were written in one province - British Columbia. Alberta represented 16% of the exams and Ontario 31%. However, Canada's much higher scoring on these exams is reflective of the superior Canadian education system and high school curriculum, but the already very high number of university graduates in Canada reflects students that were better prepared for university work.

With GPA such an important factor in acceptance to Canadian universities – and the average entrance GPA continuing to climb, unless a student can guarantee they are going to hit a 5 on an AP exam and they want to reduce their university course load (which will affect OSAP and other funding) – I would not take the risk of not getting first choice of school or program and possibly being disqualified from scholarships.

Check out CUDO (https://cudo.ouac.on.ca) and you will find the entrance averages for all Ontario schools. In 2015, first year students at McMaster with 90% or over in all high school subjects represented 43.5% of those accepted, Queen’s 47.8%, Western 50.7, U of Toronto St. George (50.8 which includes about 25% International Students) and Waterloo 55.8%. On the CUDO site you can also check the entrance average by program. Based on the averages you know certain programs will be even more competitive (i.e. Mathematics at Waterloo where 88.6% of the 1st year students had 90% high school GPA or over). As you can see, there is tough competition for the top universities in Ontario – and the other top universities in Canada. (http://www.macleans.ca/education/what-g ... versities/)

I can assure you PACE offers everything your child needs to succeed and excel at the top universities in Canada and the US – and their track record proves that. I hope this information helps.
Newbie
Oct 5, 2013
8 posts
1 upvote
Richmond Hill
Thanks Deal Diva. My daughter insist to stay at PACE anyway despite the IB program accept her. I think as long as she feels comfortable and happy at the PACE, she will perform well. In fact she does very well at PACE so it may be too dangerous to switch her to a new environment with uncertainties. I agree with your opinions and analysis very well. Thanks for your help.
Deal Addict
Dec 27, 2013
1801 posts
461 upvotes
Woodbridge
Deal Diva wrote:
Jan 18th, 2018 3:51 pm
However, US universities also look at grades from all four years of high school versus Canada, where only Grades 11 and 12 are a factor.
From my understanding, grade 11 marks are used to consider early admission; however, term 1 final and term 2 midterm marks from grade 12 are sufficient for regular admission. Are there scenarios in which a student's grade 11 marks were not good enough for early admission and they still did not receive an offer despite improved grade 12 marks? Are there scenarios in which a student's grade 11 marks were good enough for early admission and they kept their offer despite a drop in grade 12 marks? Just curious what implications there are of early admission over regular admission.
Newbie
Mar 26, 2008
10 posts
4 upvotes
Jvnanu. I can't answer that but an admissions officer at any of the universities will surely be able to help with you with that question. I can tell you that I personally don't know anyone that had an early admissions offer that was ever rejected. Most students that are achieving excellent Grade 11 marks will do the same in Grade 12 - barring an exceptional circumstance - which the universities will take into account. (i.e. sickness, death of a family member etc.)
Last edited by Deal Diva on Feb 2nd, 2018 1:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Newbie
Mar 26, 2008
10 posts
4 upvotes
pace0411 I am very happy to hear that your daughter is doing so well and insists on staying at PACE. The day will come when you will look back, as I often do, and truly appreciate everything this school will have done to enrich and enhance your daughter's future.
Jr. Member
Nov 10, 2013
194 posts
53 upvotes
Richmond Hill, ON
unless a student can guarantee they are going to hit a 5 on an AP exam and they want to reduce their university course load (which will affect OSAP and other funding) – I would not take the risk of not getting first choice of school or program and possibly being disqualified from scholarships
DD,
Could you clarify that? How would it affect OSAP/scholarships?
Thanks a lot for all the info you provided in this thread.
Newbie
Mar 26, 2008
10 posts
4 upvotes
gobseck. You are very welcome.

Re: AP and OSAP; Funding is determined based on course load and whether a student is considered Full Time or Part Time. A student is considered to be Full Time if they are carrying a course load of 60% or more - which means 3 or more of the 5 credits normally taken during a full academic year (Fall/Winter semesters). OSAP funding is based on how many courses the student is taking - as is the tuition.

As well, the T2202A issued for the tuition tax credit will include tuition paid and be based on whether the student is full time or part time and will be given credit for 8 or 4 months of schooling. This becomes a factor for the rent credit if your student is away for school as you can only use the number of months of tuition credit based on whether you are full or part time. Even though you normally have to rent an apartment for 12 months - a full time student can only use 8 months of the rent credit. Special note: if a student is staying in student residence for their first year, there is no rent tax credit – other than $25.00. That also applies to students working as Dons and living in residence. As an aside, be careful when renting university owned student apartments to ensure that they will provide confirmation of the full amount of rent paid for the rent credit. Some apartments may be owned by the university, without you being aware, and considered subsidized and do not provide confirmation of the full amount - and the student loses that credit. Given that the rents charged are competitive with other student housing, it is not worth it to lose that credit. OSAP students are regularly audited and the rent credit is one of the things the government checks.

So as you can see - if a student decides to reduce their course load by using AP credits - it can affect them financially. If they use AP credits AND maintain a full course load - then it won't make a difference.

Re: AP and Scholarships. AP credits will not impact university entrance scholarships as all of them are based on graduating GPA for their top six courses. So long as a student is achieving 5 in their AP courses, and including it in their top six, they have a good shot at the larger entrance scholarships. In fact, the University of Alberta offers a special $1000 scholarship to 20 top ranked students having 5 or more AP courses. Universities such as U of Waterloo, Laurier, McMaster only accept a certain amount of AP credits depending on the programs. Some programs only accept 2 AP credits, the norm being 3, and some programs accept 4 - all with a minimum of a grade of 4 or more. McMaster specifies they will only accept the AP course with final exam - not the exam on its own.

Where AP credits can affect scholarships is once the student is in university. Scholarships such as the Queen's Chancellor, Laurier President's Gold Scholarship will only renew based on a full 5 courses per year. If a student wants to reduce their course load, they will not receive the scholarship (even if they hit the GPA requirement). As well, many university scholarships awarded in house are awarded automatically and are based on course load and GPA. AP credits would not be considered, nor included in the university GPA - so a student using AP credits during that period to reduce course load, would be excluded from these. Some of the in house scholarships are based on extra-curricular contribution to your university, GPA, and leadership abilities - but cannot say whether or not the full course load is considered.

The information is only applicable to Canadian universities - where AP credits do not appear to be as important to our universities as they might be in the US - where it is a bigger business (and yes it is a business!). I have provided links in my comments above to articles with more information. If you are US bound, you need to do more research – but can offer you this information: The PACE students I know that attended Harvard and Wharton, and were interviewed by Yale and Dartmouth, did not have any AP/IB courses. I believe that US universities recognize the excellence of the Canadian school system.

Looking at the increasing graduating averages of high school students in Canada, and the competition for top spots, the challenge is to get the GPA to get accepted into the students’ first choice of program and university along with the creative thinking and writing skills to write the supplementary applications that may be required. The same situation will happen all over again when students graduating undergrad try to move on to graduate studies, law school, med school or whatever program they pursue – as a high GPA is extremely important, so this is another factor to consider when choosing your undergrad university.

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